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Daily Archives: November 28, 2021

How I Keep My Bikes from Rusting over the Long Michigan Winter

I’ve got a lot of bikes to look after. We have a detached garage and far too many bikes to store in the bike room over the winter so I have to employ some pretty aggressive tactics to keep my bikes shiny while they’re waiting for spring locked up in the garage. I’ll start with the easy, first.

The obvious winner for keeping the bikes rust-free is storing the bikes indoors, in a temperature controlled environment whenever possible. My wife once asked if we could store my Venge and Trek out in the garage for the winter. I said that was possible, but if either developed a spot of rust, I’d get a new bike. My bike room stayed “the bike room”, though I imagine I’ve paid a price for that.

*Notice all of the bikes that are hung from the wheels above/right are hung from alloy wheels. I don’t hang the carbon fiber wheels like that. It’s probably a little hyper-sensitive, but I’d rather not risk it. I don’t need a $750 “oops”.

With the good bikes in the bike room, there’s a level of care I can take to keep the others tip-top because the only thing I hate more than a noisy bike is a bike with rusty parts. First, it helps to know which parts will give you trouble. Your main bolts, the cable retention bolts on the derailleurs, the front derailleur frame bolt, the stem bolts and your stem cap bolts are obvious. What about the set screws for your rim brakes, though? I hit them all with a light coating of lube. I even take a towel and soak a corner with a good chain lube and use a 1 or 2 mm Allen key to get the insides of the bolt heads. Basically, anything steel.

Then, I’ll clean the chains and hit them with a light spray lube. This will keep them from rusting out in the garage.

Now, if you use a wax lube as I do, you have to degrease the chains in the spring before you hit them with the wax lube again, but it’s worth that extra effort to save the chains from rusting (or maybe rub a thin coat of the wax lube on a towel over the outside of the chain – I’d imagine that would work, too). Look at it this way; I’ve got eight chains on seven bikes to deal with in the spring. If I have to buy a new chain for every bike, we’re talking near $400 by the time I’m done. I’d rather put a new chain on the bikes when they’re useful life is over.

Then there’s the cassette. This will rust without a little preventative maintenance as well.

With a little forethought and an hour, I can protect my bikes so they’re shiny and ready for duty come spring.

Finally, I use the winter to perform any needed maintenance tasks that might be needed. I’ll bring each bike in and make sure the cables, housings and endcaps are clean and the shifting is right. If anything needs replacing, I’ll handle it while the snow is flying and I’m handling my workouts on the trainer.